Ford Ironman World Championship

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NBC Premiered Jan 01, 1981 Between Seasons

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Ford Ironman World Championship

Show Summary

The top long-distance triathletes compete at the Ford Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, every year for the opportunity to become crowned as the best Ironman-distance athletes in the world.

The event was started in 1977 by Judy and John Collins after a discussion with other endurance athletes to determine who is more fit -- open water swimmers, cyclists or runners. The race would combine all three disciplines into a single competition. Three existing races -- the2.4-mile Waikiki Roughwater Swim, the 112-mile Around-O'ahu Bike Race and the 26.2-mile Honolulu Marathon -- were combined to create the first Ironman race on Feb. 18, 1978. Fifteen people showed up in Waikiki, receiving simple instructions on a few sheets of paper. The last page read, "Swim 2.4 miles! Bike 112 miles! Run 26.2 miles! Brag for the rest of your life!"

In 1981, the race was moved to Kona, on the Big Island of Hawaii.

The low-key race gained worldwide prominence after the 1982 race was televised on ABC's Wide World of Sports. Viewers watched as Julie Moss succumbed to the demands of the race and lost her lead. Her struggle to continue on toward the finish line inspired others to travel to Kona and compete.

As the Ironman brand grew to encompass an entire triathlon race series, the Kona race was established as the world championship. The race attracts the top Ironman triathletes from around the world. It also brings in numerous amateur (age-group) competitors who train hard to qualify for the race with other race results. Qualifying for Kona is similar to the prestige of a marathoner qualifying for the Boston Marathon.

The field in recent years now numbers almost 1,800 participants, pro and age group. The race is broadcast live on the official Ironman website while the edited highlight program is broadcast on NBC later in the year.

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Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 12/14/2008

Season 2008 : Episode 1

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    Themes

    Water Sports, Bicycling